The first qualifying session of round six of the 2007 World Superbike Championship took place at a warm and sunny Autodrome Nazionale Monza in Italy today. HANNspree Ten Kate Honda's James Toseland completed the session with the fastest lap time to secure a provisional front row start. Team-mate Roberto Rolfo qualified in eighth position.
After a disappointing morning practice that saw Toseland experiencing a minor problem with his CBR1000RR, the British rider fought back in the official session to finish at the top of the timesheet. He set three fastest laps in quick succession towards the end of the hour-long qualifying, beating the existing Monza best Superbike lap by over half a second with a time of 1'45.953.
Team-mate Rolfo continued to rise up the timesheet after two satisfying sessions in his home country. The 25-year-old secured his personal best lap at the 5.793km Monza circuit during the afternoon qualifying with a time of 1'46.960. Rolfo's aim for the tomorrow is to finish in the top eight for a spot at the front of the grid for Sunday's 18-lap race.
Ronald ten Kate, Team Manager:
"So far I'm quite happy with the job of both riders in the HANNspree Ten Kate Honda team. James is leading the provisional grid, which is good. We still have a bit of work to do dealing with some small issues that cost us valuable track time during the session. Hopefully we can sort this out and concentrate on race distance tomorrow. I'm also happy to see Roby further up the grid - the progress he made at Assen is continuing at Monza. He is in eighth position so there is still a bit more work to do but hopefully tomorrow we will see him qualify on the second row to at least get a good start to the race with the front runners."
"It was a good session this afternoon, although this morning was really bad. We had a problem with the rear spindle and it took the guys about 15 minutes to put it right so that cost us some time. Anyway, we changed quite a bit in the session and we have a really good set-up for the bike - it's feeling really strong. It's nice to be quickest on Friday."
Noriyuki Haga (2nd - 1'46.316 - Yamaha Motor Italia);
"Second is good although I am not too concerned with where I am on the grid at the moment. Tomorrow is the most important with the second qualifying and Superpole. I have learnt from Assen that I need to be on the front row going in to Superpole in case of having any problems! The bike is feeling good and I have already made a long run on a tyre today which I am happy with."
Troy Corser (12th - 1'47.321 - Yamaha Motor Italia);
"I am not happy as you can probably understand. We didn't get enough track time and we have some braking problems with the bike that need to be solved before tomorrow. It's going to be a long night with the team checking all the data to identify and resolve the problem. All I know is that I have to go faster tomorrow and I know we can do better than twelfth."
"All is going OK actually". "We did a lot of laps and I did that time on the thirteenth or fourteenth lap which was OK but still we just need to realise a few things that we haven't done that we had last year so I'm confident in a couple of things we've got for tomorrow morning on the race set-up and I'm looking forward to getting out on the bike again to tell the truth. My top speed is pretty good as well, we've been working on that, just got to improve a bit of the feeling on the initial brake and we've got a little bit of movement in the fast right-hander but we've got a couple of good ideas in the morning and we're pretty keen".
"For sure I am not happy with today's performance, whenever I come to Monza it seems that I always struggle". "In my opinion this track is one of the worst for my riding style. I'm giving my everything, the bike is fine, but the thing that I'm really not happy about is that I am almost two seconds slower than Toseland. This year it has never happened, not even when my team-mate set pole, at the most I was six or seven tenths off the pole. Now we will have to modify something on the bike to help me adapt my riding style on this track. I think we'll change a few things both in the front and at the rear like the ride height and the springs, to help me get a better feeling."
"I am happy with qualifying this afternoon. We worked with the race setting, which was important for me because I want to understand the track and improve my riding style on the bike. I wanted to find a good feeling for the corner exit because I think this is very important at Monza. I think I have improved and by the last part of the session I was improving lap by lap. I am happy with the time because it's the fastest ever lap I have done at this track. I was good at the beginning and good at the end so we have to look at all the data and bring it together to get one great lap tomorrow."
Yukio Kagayama - 9th, 1:46.972:
"I am not so happy how today went and I hope we can improve tomorrow. This morning I had some problems entering the corners, so we made some changes to the clutch and the engine braking. Normally this problem is easy to fix but we were not able to find the solution although we did improve the chassis feeling and I am sure I can push harder tomorrow."
Max Biaggi - 11th, 1:47.205:
"Monza is a new track for me really, because the last time I was here was a long time ago. I have never ridden a Superbike here so I have to learn the track before I can begin to push hard. Although this track is not difficult to learn, you have to know the correct braking points if you want to go fast. It is so important to find your braking points and it's easy to lose tenths of a second if you don't know what you are doing. We had a little stability problem today so we'll make some changes to the bike for tomorrow. I always ask a lot of myself, so I don't really feel any extra pressure on me here. This is my first WSBK race in Italy and I want to do well for my team and all the fans."
Friday WSB Qualifying:
- 1. Toseland (GB-Honda) 1:45.953
- 2. Haga (J-Yamaha) 1:46.316
- 3. Muggeridge (Aus-Honda) 1:46.462
- 4. Laconi (F-Kawasaki) 1:46.548
- 5. Brookes (Aus-Honda) 1:46.686
- 6. Xaus (E-Ducati) 1:46.775
- 7. Bayliss (Aus-Ducati) 1:46.918
- 8. Rolfo (I-Honda) 1:46.960
- 9. Yukio Kagayama (I-Suzuki) 1:46.972
- 10. Nieto (E-Kawasaki) 1:47.125
- 11. Max Biaggi (I-Suzuki) 1:47.205